Understanding your guest is the fundamental aspect of marketing. If we understand our guests, we can market and sell to them better period. There is nothing clearer than that. Unfortunately, this is a common marketing mistake, because we either don’t want to turn away guests or we don’t take the time to do the research to fully understand them. The cool thing is, understanding our Guest is what stops us from second-guessing whether our communication resonates with travelers or not. And it starts with build a customer profile.
Let’s talk about how this works in real life, because sometimes it's difficult to convince owners and operators to go through the work of identifying a guest in a lot of detail instead of choosing just every traveler to target.
So, we interviewed travel entrepreneur Rodrigo Atuesta, Owner and operator of Impulse Travel to give us his point of view on the topic, He has done alot of work refining their customer profile which is also called a buyer persona, a guest persona or you have probably heard of customer avatar before too.
Impulse travel is a leading tour company in Colombia, based out of Bogota, they run original, responsible and informative tours to help communicate and preserve culture and peace in Colombia, as this country evolves into a once-dangerous place to visit into a world-class tourist destination. Impulse also was just awarded the booking cares grant for sustainable tourism startups.
Disclosure: Rodrigo is a past client of Travel Life Media, however he is one of those guys who will tell it like it is as he did here in this short question period, during an interview in Medellin Colombia.
Dorene: Rodrigo, I want to talk to you a little bit about guests and your target guests specifically. So one of the problems that have come up with a number of clients that I work with, is the idea of really finding a target guest as opposed to marketing to every traveler that's out there. And I know it's hard enough as it is to get new guests coming into our business these days. However, with developing a guest persona and really understanding who you want to target, there's a lot of benefits with that. You can speak to them differently, to a target guest directly to understand their pain points. And we've done some work on your guest persona. So I want to ask you, what impact has it had with really defining a target guest? And we had we have a guest for you that was defined as Jennifer and we knew where she was from what her needs were. We also know how she actually consumes media, all those things. How did that work in your business? Did that generate more sales? What exactly was the impact?
Rodrigo: So in general, beyond sales and advertising and marketing, I think just focus is mandatory in every aspect of the business. But if we focus on the exercise we did, it helped us to focus efforts on our communication and marketing and the way we write the content. Once we understand the person who we're talking to, the pain points of the buyer, we can deliver a message in a way that is more impactful because we can understand them. Put yourself in the shoes and the kind of things that are going through the head of the buyer. So that allows us to enter a conversation going on in their head. And it makes easier to convey a message. So once we have the focus on the persona, then there's a lot of efficiencies that we see. Also, something that is very important is that this focus allows us to save a lot of money, time, and effort on advertisement because we know the kind of people that we want to talk to, and we know how to define the different attributes that they have in terms of their demographics, psychographics that help us understand where to find them. And deliver a message directly to them. So what we've seen in the results have been fantastic, because what we see is that once we start to focus more narrowly on the bigger percent of that we define together the conversion the sales and also the referrals started to explode because people who actually value what we have way better than any other customer who is not part of your segment because the things that we develop from the product to the communication, to the customer service to the buyer process, through after the whole travel experience is made. It's to create value for them. And they perceive the value way higher and that it helps a lot for helping or you know nudging customers to refer us to future travelers.
Dorene: So did you find by going through that process of defining that, your staff understood that person better too so they were better equipped to respond to customer service challenges with them? or answering their needs?
Rodrigo: them totally because service is about being able to understand and to put in the shoes of the person that you have on the other side of the line or the email or write in front of you. So as long as the whole team of the guides can understand our customers because we've helped him understand them they can deliver much better service which results in much higher customer satisfaction which drives again to more conversion and higher referral rate.
Dorene: Okay. So how did that affect that process, how did that affect reviews?
Rodrigo: Well reviews are way better and people write reviews more, like not generic ones like just five stars and a great experience. Thank you. They really take their time because they feel connected and they felt like we went above and beyond their expectations. And when people perceive that, it translates into reviews that are more thoughtful, more detailed, and those kinds of reviews are the reviews we are going to right, like a snowball, that generates to other people converting and then other people convert and more people convert because they see the value that they read in the detailed reviews, and then these are the customers that we're getting. So the more visitors we have that are by our persona the more efficient and the more repercussions we have in our marketing efforts.
Dorene: And so, let's talk about sales then, because you know we have to convert people that are looking on our website and getting them to become obviously, buyers of tours or our hotels or whatever the case may be. Yeah. So purely on a sales standpoint, did you find that you were by going through this process, you were getting more of those kinds of people in your guest persona? Because of the way you communicated in your marketing?
Rodrigo: Well the ways, it's more about you know sales, it's a whole journey. So it starts when they find you. They see the website for the first time, they identify the brand maybe read a couple of reviews, maybe they follow you on Instagram, but then that's when the relationship starts going. And there is a kind of mute conversation before they reach out to us, and when they reach out to us, we're able to develop the right content to deliver to them without being like Hey. buy me buy me, buy me. But as we know their pain points and we develop the content in a way that we are addressing exactly the pain points that we have and identified that is crucial, because it helps us to position ourselves as someone who knows the sector and someone who can solve the problems that they have. So going back to the question, in terms of sales it helps a lot. It makes a much better customer journey throughout the sales funnel that ultimately drives to a higher conversion. And also to a higher basket rate, so we get to sell more tours to a specific lead. If we can't communicate and we can gain their trust because we know him and we are going straight for their pain points.
So, in a nutshell, knowing your target guest well, and using a customer profile (buyer persona or guest persona) to get there, has a whole host of benefits to your business.
For more marketing tips for the tourism industry, you can find them here.
Dorene Wharton is a tourism strategist, marketer, coach and full-time traveler with a 25-year career working in all areas of marketing and sales. She left her corporate job with Fortune 500 hospitality brands to start Travel Life Media to help hotels, tour, attractions and event companies improve their marketing, live their brand with a purpose and make money.